On April 13, SGA heard from the new Democratic chair for El Paso County Mischa Smith, who discussed her mission of getting more young people to engage in political discussions and vote.
Smith thinks that getting involved with politics is important, and encourages people to talk about it more in their communities in addition to voting. “Local politics is so important. The everyday things that you see is local politics. Your roads, that pothole that bottomed out your car last year — that is local politics. All of that matters. Vote every time,” she said.
Smith is a UCCS alum who fell in love with politics through canvassing for the Obama campaign during college. Once she graduated from UCCS, Smith worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. She was a field organizer, a position designed to turn out votes for the candidate.
Smith took Clinton’s loss of the 2016 election personally and decided to retire from politics, which she described as “running away.”
“It was one of the worst nights of my life. I’ve had break ups that were easier. I had an existential crisis because I’m sitting in our election party, and now Donald Trump was our president. And that scared me,” Smith said.
However, Smith got back into politics when she worked for Pete Buttigieg during the 2020 election. “Pete had Obama swagger; I hadn’t been excited like this since Obama … I saw for the first time the same image I’d seen in Barack Obama — I saw a president,” she said.
Smith worked with Buttigieg for 18 months and discovered that most of the people she was turning out votes for were retired individuals. She explained that this was because young people typically don’t vote.
“We had one of the most, in my opinion, exciting candidates. It was a chance to make history: our first openly gay president, and we didn’t show up. It’s in our hands, and we just don’t do it,” Smith said.
Smith continued her work in politics by running in the Democratic primary for House District 17 in Colorado. She described it as a brutal experience because of the amount of blatant racism and sexism she faced while campaigning.
“While knocking on doors, people would sexually harass me, and it was so gross. Knock on another door and people would say ‘I’m voting for the real black one,’” Smith said.
Smith lost the primary but ran for El Paso County Democratic chair and won.
“If you want changes, you have to initiate them … Do more and complain about what’s happening. And if you are complaining and didn’t vote — I don’t care,” Smith said.
Students interested in getting involved in local politics can contact Smith at [email protected].
In other news:
- SGA passed a bill to fund their activity for Mountain Lion Mania through a unanimous vote. The bill allocates $820 to purchase inflatable surf simulators that will go along with their beach-themed event.
- SGA passed the First Aid Kits Bill through a unanimous vote. The bill allocates $1,234.20 to purchase bandages, ibuprofen, scissors and tweezers for students. There will be 60 kits for students to pick up from Clyde’s Cupboard on Fresh Food Fridays or Clyde’s Student Needs Closet. Each student can only take one.
- SGA passed a tote bag bill for ClydeCon through a unanimous vote. The bill allocates $826, allowing SGA to purchase 200 tote bags for students who attend the event on April 19. Bags will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis.
- SGA passed a bill granting Green Action Fund (GAF) permission to collect signatures as part of a petition. Their goals are to get the Green Action Fee back on the ballot through a special election. GAF will need signatures from 10% of the voting base to host the election, which will take place by the end of the semester if they get enough people to sign the petition. According to Chief Justice Zachary Terradez, if they do get enough signatures, this will be the first time a special election has been held.